Using Webforms to Convert 3000 Screens
HP to unveil source licensees in Q1, 2010

ScreenJet eases migration into new generation

    HP 3000 migrations strive to change an environment that customers believe has a limited future. But a new utility aims to preserve as well as extend the most productive part of a company’s IT solution: the user interface. ScreenJet’s EZ View will reproduce an application’s VPlus screens using XML, even while those screens continue to run on a 3000 during fast-track testing for a migration.

    Alan Yeo, founder of ScreenJet (, said the product he introduced at the recent e3000 Community Meet operates on both 3000 systems and migration target environments. It’s designed to carry apps out of the VPlus development era while being faithful to the current look of a user’s screen.

    EZ View allows the screen migration to be tested while the application remains on the HP 3000. “It reduces the risk,” Yeo said. “We have the only VPlus migration product that runs on the 3000 as well. You can switch to our API and the XML forms files.”

    Yeo, whose company and products helped migrate 3000 customers since 2003, said that a successful migration minimizes risk while it moves user applications to an environment such as HP-UX, Windows or Linux.  Changes in a company’s application screens force retraining while they potentially introduce the task of reworking to fix bugs.    “The cost of retraining staff, or changing the way a business function works, can cost them more than doing the work of the migration,” Yeo said. “Re-engineering is Phase Two of a migration."

    One term for this type of migration is a lift-and-shift, deploying the identical functionality on a non-3000 system. VPlus is one of the oldest aspects of 3000 programming that continues to front-end apps today. When HP first developed the screen-building tool it was remarkable, Yeo said. 3000 programmers didn’t have to create a user interface from scratch, as they did with systems from other business computing vendors.

    “VPlus was one of the few products where you didn’t write the screens,” Yeo said. “All you did was call the high-level functions to drive the screens.” Formfiles determine the look and feel of a VPlus character-based screen. But only the HP 3000 understands the high-level functions and Formfiles wired into most 3000 apps.

   EZ View carries 3000 developers who work on migrations into the world of XML, an industry-standard meta-language used to define data and presentation to users. The product makes it possible to port screens to XML without learning the language. The object is to re-create the user interface so completely that users don’t know they’re working on a Unix or Windows version of the 3000 app.

    The seamless transformation of screens becomes crucial in companies where unions play a part in work practices. “We’ve been in migrations where the unions would demand retraining unless the interface was identical,” Yeo said.

Migrating it yourself

    Other suppliers employ automated tools for accurate transfer of 3000 screens in the migration or conversion marketplace. ScreenJet promotes the use of its tool for any company doing its own migration, as well as migration companies that are undertaking projects for customers. Some conversion software is used only as part of an outsourced migration. Application vendors are also a potential target for EZ View.

    “These kinds of tools are really out there by now,” Yeo said. “Migration is really doable by small and midsize companies.”    The conversion software runs on the HP 3000 to read the VPlus Formfiles layouts, attributes and processing. The information is stored in database on the 3000, so the 3000 can continue to present the user interface as always, even while a customer’s developers make VPlus changes.

    Whenever a Formsfile needs to be converted the developer can select it from the database to create an XML file. The XML can used on the 3000 or transferred to the migration’s target server.

    Like any conversion tool, EZ View has a few VPlus attributes it can’t move into XML. But these CONFIG Phase Statements are only used on the antique HP2645 terminals. “As we suspect that the number of 2645 Terminals still in use for applications can probably be counted on one hand, we have chosen to not implement this functionality,” Yeo said. CONFIG also drives display device lights, internal tape drives and paper tape readers, another array of retired technology.

    A replacement VPlus API allows applications to retain their existing calls. The API resolves the calls at run time and makes the appropriate calls using the new XML-defined screens. Yeo stressed that the combined ScreenJet toolkit and API eliminates coding changes to move screens.

    As ScreenJet’s third generation of screen transformation solutions, EZ View addresses the need to keep risks out of Phase One of a migration. Eliminating every possible rewritten line controls budgets, timelines and success.

    “What we’ve learned is that even if you convert to a GUI, you don’t change a line of code,” Yeo said. When we first worked at VPlus migration, in the first few years we wanted the interface to end up better. What we missed was that the bigger the company gets, the less they can afford to change anything”